Why Do You Believe What You Believe?
Updated: Jan 11, 2019
“People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.”
- Blaise Pascal
On Bibledingers podcast, we attempt to cover really large, difficult topics for you that require deep thought in a lot of cases. Whether you’re listening to our episode about creation, or dispensationalism, or whatever it may be. The goal is to not push our own personal beliefs on you, but present the beliefs for what they are – exposing pros and cons to each belief system.
For you to decide what you believe on your own, we thought it would be good to put together a blog on belief itself. Why do we choose to believe certain things, while choosing to not believe others?
There are 4 basic reasons that people choose to believe something –
1. Sociological Reasons- What your parents, friends, society, culture, geographical location, or particular community believes - or because of peer pressure. This is like common consensus. Everybody else basically believe this, so I believe it too. For example – everyone in Texas would say that Whataburger has the best burger. They believe that because their Texan culture dictates their burger belief. #BurgerBelief
2. Psychological Reasons - This is when you believe something, because it gives you comfort, peace of mind, meaning, purpose, hope, identity, and feelings of intuition. For example – you believe someone is your best friend, because you have feelings of closeness to that person. Or you believe that you will get over a trial in life, because that belief brings you hope.
3. Religious Reasons – This is when you believe something because it is part of your church tradition, your religious authority told you that it was truth, your holy book says it, etc.
4. Philosophical Reasons – This is when you believe something because it makes sense. It has consistency, coherence, and completeness. This is just plain, rational thought process. Understanding the facts and concluding with the correct belief.
So what does this have to do with the Bible and theology?
Well it is important to approach theology in a systematic and comprehensive way, covering all bases, so that your beliefs are based on adequate justifications. Basically, you want to have good reasons for believing what you believe. You need to have a solid basis for validating your claims and invalidating other claims. This is important, because God gave us the Bible to understand with the help of the Holy Spirit. We are not meant to just read it willy nilly and not think deeply about what it says.
The whole sum of your beliefs is something called your “worldview”. Your worldview is important, because what you believe will dictate how you live. The decisions you make, the relationships you create, how you spend your time, etc – these are all consequences of your worldview. If you are a Christian, you want to have a biblical worldview. You want the Bible to tell you how you should make decisions and spend your life.
Here are a couple examples of other worldviews that inform peoples’ lives along with the way they view God, man, truth, values, and reality. These are pretty common among the American millenial –
1.View of God: Atheism (there is no God), Agnosticism (there is not enough information to
determine whether God exists), Secular Existentialism (God does not exist so the community must learn to live without Him)
2.View of man: Chance product of evolution, entirely material biological machine, man is finite and will one day become extinct, there is no afterlife, there is no such thing as sin
3.View of truth: Truth is usually understood as scientific proof, knowledge gained by five senses,
only that which can be observed with the five senses is as accepted as real
4.View of values: No objective perspective values, morals are individual preferences sociologically useful behavior, conscience may be an evolutionary development, usually see rational or contract model of ethics
5.View of reality: The material universe is all that exists, reality is “one-dimensional”, no supernaturalism, everything can be explained on the basis of physical chemical laws, socio-biological science.
1.View of God: paganism, new age, spiritualism, non-theism, why even ask the questions?
2.View of man: humans are nodes in cultural reality, they are products of their subculture social
setting, could be a product of evolution, biases scripted by subculture
3.View of truth: Truths are mental constructs meaningful to individuals, subcultural paradigms, truth is redefined as a particular construct, no universal truths, resist all forms of categorization
4.View of values: No objective moral objectives, anti-authoritarian, values are mental constructs, meaning to individuals sub-cultural paradigms, particular moralism, tolerance is prized virtue
5.View of reality: reality is socially constructed, the idea that there is a reality out there is a product of Greek philosophy western thought, the idea that people are autonomous and free is a myth
Here’s the worldview that we strive to have –
Biblical Christian Worldview
1.View of God: Doctrine of Theology proper, doctrine of creator-creation distinction, doctrine of trinity, doctrine of Christology, doctrine of pneumatology
2.View of man: doctrine of anthropology, doctrine of the image of God in man, doctrine of evil & sin, doctrine of soteriology, ecclesiology, Israelology, Biblical judgments
3.View of truth: doctrine of truth, doctrine of prolegomena and bibliology, hermeneutics, Biblical application of truth, Sola Scriptura
4.View of values: Moral values are the objective truths sourced in the God of the Bible, natural moral law & Scripture for Godly living, absolute form of ethics, stewardship
5.View of reality: reality created by God of the Bible, first principles of logic, reality is material spiritual, miracles can and do happen, eschatology, angelology, demonology, satanology
Was this too philosophical?
Ya, I agree. I’ll write another post defining each of the theological studies I listed above.
Let’s strive to live and think biblically!